A study suggests that robots could replace up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world by 2030, raising concerns that while increasing automation will also boost economic growth, people in the low-income brackets will be hit hard.
Major foreign media outlets including BBC and ABC on Wednesday cited a report released by British analysis firm Oxford Economics on how robots will change the world, warning that robots could replace 8.5 percent of total manufacturing workers.
According to the study, robots are expected to have a significant impact on China's employment structure. Currently, China is operating one-third of industrial robots produced around the world and is forecast to deploy 14 million robots in manufacturing workplaces. At the speed, more than 11 million jobs will be replaced by robots in China alone by 2030.
The report also said that automation had wiped out 340,000 jobs in Korea from 2000 to 2016, noting that Ulsan, Daegu, Incheon and Busan with high dependence on manufacturing are the most vulnerable cities.
Increasing automation would aggravate income inequality, as industrial robots will replace low-skilled labor such as baggage handling at airports and stockpiling at warehouses, according to the study. The authors of the report predicted that the least-skilled regions will likely suffer the biggest blow.
The report also said that manufacturing automation would create new employment opportunities as well as a similar speed of wiping out jobs, suggesting that governments should support vulnerable regions rather than trying to slow down automation.
Ji-Sun Choi email@example.com